SURRY — Just after lunchtime on Sunday, Captain Linda Greenlaw gave the word.
Lines freed from the dock at Perry’s Lobster Shack on Union River Bay, the brand new RV Pilar set out on the first leg of a journey that will ultimately take her through the Panama Canal to her home port of La Jolla, Calif., and, eventually to the waters of the Pacific Ocean.
The purpose of her trip is to conduct research on the impact of microplastics on giant tuna and other pelagic fish in the human food chain.
A few miles away as the osprey flies, Rascal, winner of the Eggemoggin Reach Regatta’s Spirit of Tradition B class on Aug. 1, rested at her mooring in Blue Hill ready for whenever her owner and his family wanted to enjoy a day of fast sailing on a truly elegant boat.
Launched just a few days apart, Pilar and Rascal could not be more different. The first is a rugged powerboat built by Wesmac Custom Boats in Surry; the latter is a sleek racer/cruiser sailboat built by Brooklin Boat Yard.
Their common denominators, however, are the quality of the workmanship turned out by two Hancock County boatbuilders, and the way each boat suits the rationale for its construction.
BBY built Rascal for Blue Hill summer resident Patrick Wilmerding to replace an earlier BBY boat, Lark. Launched on July 29, the boat went on to win its class in the Eggemoggin Reach Regatta just three days later, sailed by the owner and a crew of children and grandchildren. Rascal beat seven other boats in its class, including Outlier, built by Brooklin Boat Yard last year for the express purpose of winning Sprit of Tradition class races, which sailed with a largely professional crew of more than a dozen.
Designed by Jim Taylor of Marblehead, Rascal is an evolutionary development of two earlier Taylor designs built by BBY, the 49-footers Dreadnaught and Blackfish.
While Blackfish was a “racier” version of Dreadnaught, Rascal, at 50 feet in overall length, focused on ease of sailing by a family crew, comfort and what BBY owner Steve White called “cruisablity.”
Both designs share the same displacement, ballast, draft and sail area measurements, but besides the extra foot in overall length, the most notable evolutionary design change is the addition of 2 inches of freeboard and a 1.5-inch increase in the height of the deck house. Even up close, the changes aren’t apparent, as Rascal’s basic lines, dark green hull and varnished mahogany house sides, cockpit coamings, and toe rails keep her appearance very near to the proportions of her older sisters. The extra inches are apparent in the boat’s accommodations, with additional overall space and headroom.
Rascal is laid out for ease of handling, with all control lines leading to the cockpit near the helm, electrically powered winches and mainsheet–powered traveler, and a Bamar mainsail in-boom furling system. Offshore Spars provided the twin-spreader spar and rig package, while North Sails built the sail inventory.
Across the bay, Pilar was built to realize an entirely different vision, Jake Russell, the new boat’s owner, said Sunday afternoon. An ardent sport fisherman and conservationist, Russell is deeply concerned by the proliferation of microplastics in the ocean, and in the bodies of pelagic fish that live in the water column in the open ocean and can range in size from the giant bluefin tuna to sardines, mackerel, squid and even the tiny krill that form the diet of many fish species.
A successful West Coast real estate developer, Russell has built the RV Pilar to serve as a research platform from which scientists can study “the overall health of our ocean’s pelagic region. Once it arrives at its home port of La Jolla in Southern California, Russell said, the boat will be available for charter to scientists to conduct their work, and the charter costs will be tailored so that the boat will be available even to graduate students without a big research budget.
Pilar is a Wesmac Super 46, with a waterline length of 44 feet, a beam of 17 feet 1 inch and a draft of 5 feet 6 inches. Fully loaded with fuel and equipment, her estimated displacement is 60,000 pounds. With a 1,400–horsepower MAN diesel turning a five-blade 32-inch–by–38-inch propeller, the boat turned a top speed of 25.5 knots in sea trials on Aug. 4. At 20 knots cruising speed, she draws 50 gallons of fuel per hour from twin 750–gallon tanks.
Pilar is equipped for serious offshore work but meant to be as energy–efficient as possible.
Her main engine was chosen because of its fuel efficiency, reduced emissions and low noise in operation. Electrical power is provided by a 12kW Northern Lights diesel generator, and a 500 gallon-per-day watermaker gives the boat extended cruising range. A QUICK gyro stabilizer set below the wheelhouse sole will help reduce the boat’s movement, especially rolling, at sea.
Unsurprising in a boat intended to operate offshore, Pilar is equipped with about as extensive communications and electronic navigation systems as it is possible to imagine. Five Simrad displays at the helm keep track of all navigational data and the boat’s various mechanical and electrical systems, and a Furuno “active sonar” system operates in all directions, not just directly beneath the boat.
On deck, Pilar is equipped with 500 gallons of live tank capacity to hold bait or fish for study. Fishing gear includes a 40-foot “green stick” for tuna fishing and a hydraulic Bandit Reel.
On Sunday, Pilar began a trip that will eventually take her to California and beyond.
Russell, Greenlaw and a small crew sailed from Surry to Billings, where the boat spent the night and took on a full load of diesel fuel. Early Monday morning, Pilar set out for West Palm Beach, Fla., where she will be loaded onto a freighter for delivery to La Paz, a Mexican port in Baja California. According to Greenlaw, an “outside” passage, in open ocean rather than down the Intracoastal Waterway, was planned for the Maine–to–Florida segment of the trip.